Meier’s new chapter in book: “Rensch’s rule in insects: patterns among and within species”

Rudolf Meier has co-authored a chapter in the new book on sexual size dimorphism.

Blanckenhorn, W. U., R. Meier & T. Teder, 2007. Rensch’s rule in insects: patterns among and within species. In: Fairbairn, D. J., W. U. Blanckenhorn & T. Székely (eds.), Sex, Size and Gender Roles: Evolutionary Studies of Sexual Size Dimorphism. Oxford University Press.

Abstract – Rensch’s rule is a common pattern of allometry for sexual size dimorphism among animal species. This chapter evaluates Rensch’s rule in insects, using three levels of analysis. When comparisons are made among species, Rensch’s rule is not more common than that which would be expected by chance: it occurs in Diptera (flies) and Heteroptera (Gerridae; water striders), but not in other insect groups.

Comparisons among populations within species also show little evidence of Rensch’s rule, although when the populations were ordered by latitude, Rensch’s rule was more common than that which would be expected by chance. Within populations, body size tends to be more phenotypically plastic in females than in males, resulting in allometry opposite to Rensch’s rule. Data on scathophagid and sepsid flies show that patterns across the three levels of comparison do not correspond well.

Thus, in insects, neither the allometric patterns nor their causative processes can be generalized among taxa or among levels of analysis.

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